Trust: Condition of action or condition of appraisal

Jack Barbalet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Research in sociology on social trust is historically recent, reflecting changing conditions underlying self-appraisal in late modernity. Acknowledgement of these changing conditions, and especially their institutional background, contributes to a reconceptualization of the notion of trust and the role of inter-personal trust in social relationships. Under conditions of late modernity, described in the article as ‘precarious institutional maturity’, trust operates primarily as a term in a vocabulary of motive or as a value or appraisal regarding self and other, rather than directly facilitating social relationships. The supposed significance of trust, it is shown, tends to be exaggerated in the literature. The importance of the widely neglected institutional context is indicated in part through consideration of the case of guanxi (Chinese connections) in which high levels of social solidarity exist in the absence of trust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-98
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number1
Early online date20 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Embedded trust
  • guanxi
  • institutional forms
  • inter-personal relations
  • late modernity


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